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Remembering Helen Keller’s Temple Square Visit

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Photo from library.byui.edu.

In 1936, The American Printing House for the Blind printed a seven-volume Braille edition of the Book of Mormon. When it was printed, President Heber J. Grant said, “I am very thankful that the Book of Mormon has been printed in Braille…I am convinced that wonderful book, full of inspiration from Almighty God…will cause many a person to rejoice who has never been able to read the Book of Mormon heretofore.”

President Grant made sure one notable person was able to take advantage of the Book of Mormon in Braille—Helen Keller.

On March 11, 1941, President Heber J. Grant presented Keller with a copy of the Book of Mormon in Braille. The Deseret News reports that she “expressed her pleasure at the gift and read from the text with rapidity.”

The next day, under the direction and patronage of organizations like the Utah Commission for the Blind and the LDS Society for the Sightless, Keller visited Utah and answered questions in the Tabernacle on Temple Square. After answering questions about being deaf and blind and learning to read, type, and talk, Keller had a question of her own.

Famous Mormon poet Emma Lou Thayne recalls being at the Tabernacle when Helen Keller asked for the President Grant:

“There was a flurry of getting up from the front row, and President Grant walked up the stairs to the stand. She reached out her hand and he took it. ‘I . . . would like . . . ,’ she said, “to hear your organ . . . play . . . your famous song—about your pioneers. I . . . would like . . . to remember hearing it here.’”

Keller placed her hand on the organ while the organist, Alexander Schreiner, played “Come, Come, Ye Saints.” Feeling only the vibrations from the magnificent instrument and organist's efforts, she stood there in front of the congregation, and the tears flowed.

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Photo from Deseret News, March 11, 1941.
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